We investigate the dynamics of a small number of droplets (N = 1, 2, 3) in microfluidic Hele–Shaw cells. We study the cases N = 1, 2, and 3 droplets and analyze the influence of the side walls. In the course of the study, we observe spontaneous alignment of droplet pairs, pair exchanges, droplet escape, multiple reflections between walls, i.e., a number of phenomena that have not been reported yet. As a whole, using pairwise far-field dipolar interactions between droplets, along with treating the walls as mirrors, allows to reproduce the observations, even though limitations in the predictability of the model are pointed out in a few cases. From a more practical prospective, the work shows that the behavior of elementary droplet assemblies can be put under acceptable experimental control in a wide variety of situations, a feature potentially interesting for self-assembly, mixing, or transport of particles in microfluidic environments.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2014
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